how to become a barber

How To Become A Barber.
The Complete Step by Step Guide

Have you ever considered a career as a barber? Barbering is an exciting profession that allows you to tap into your creativity and build meaningful relationships with clients. If you’re interested in becoming a professional barber, this complete guide will walk you through every step of the process.

What Does a Barber Do?

Before diving into how to become a barber, let’s first understand what barbers do on a day-to-day basis. Here are some of the key responsibilities and duties of a professional barber:

  • Cut, trim, and style hair for men and boys using clippers, scissors, razors, and other tools
  • Maintain facial hair such as beards, mustaches, and sideburns
  • Perform shaving and grooming services like hot towel shaves
  • Recommend hair care products and educate clients on home hair maintenance
  • Engage with clients in conversation during services
  • Sanitize tools and work stations to meet cleanliness standards
  • Develop relationships with repeat clientele
  • Stay up to date on the latest trends and techniques in men’s hairstyling

In essence, barbers are experts in cutting, styling, and grooming men’s hair. Their knowledge of hair texture, growth patterns, and face shapes allow them to create customized looks for each client. If you enjoy interacting with people, expressing creativity through hair, and making clients look and feel their best, barbering may be the perfect career choice.

Why Become a Barber?

Before committing to barber school and licensure, it’s important to understand the key benefits of this career path:

Artistic Expression

Barbering allows you to tap into your creativity every single day. Sculpting, tapering, and detailing hair is an artform, and barbers get to work with a different canvas – their client’s head and face – each time they come into the shop.

Relationship Building

Seeing the same clients on a regular basis allows barbers to establish lasting relationships. Your chair can become a place not just for haircuts but also for interesting conversation and community-building.

Flexible Schedule

Owning your own barbershop or renting a chair gives you control over when and how much you want to work. You can often set your own hours and take time off when needed.

Hands-On Work

If you prefer active, hands-on work over sitting at a desk, barbering provides that opportunity. The day moves fast as you’re on your feet cutting hair from one client to the next.

Client Confidence Boost

A great haircut can do wonders for a client’s self-image. Knowing your skills with the clippers gives them more confidence each time they get up from your chair.

Lifelong Learning

Styles are constantly evolving in barbering, so learning never stops. You’ll continually expand your skills and techniques throughout your career.

As you can see, choosing barbering as a career path offers a nice mix of creativity, flexibility, continuous growth, and the chance to positively impact clients. If these benefits appeal to you, read on to learn how to turn barbering into a reality.

Step 1: Graduate High School or Get a GCSE

The first requirement for becoming a licensed barber in the UK is having a secondary school diploma such as GCSEs, or equivalent qualifications. This ensures you have the basic educational foundation to pass the written exams for licensure later on. If you have not completed secondary school, look into UK programs to earn equivalent qualifications needed to begin barber training. Some options include Functional Skills English and Maths certificates, an Access to Higher Education Diploma, BTEC First Diplomas, or other recognized qualifications. Reach out to colleges and community education programs to learn more about earning credentials required for barber school admission and licensure in the UK.

Step 2: Consider an Apprenticeship

One route into barbering is to find a shop willing to take you on as an apprentice. Reach out to local barbershops and explain your interest in learning the trade hands-on. If you find an apprenticeship opportunity, expect to spend 1-2 years learning skills like:

  • Cutting and clipper work
  • Styling men’s hair
  • Straight razor shaving
  • Maintaining tools
  • Customer service
  • Shop operations

This immersive approach allows you to absorb the day-to-day realities of barbering under a seasoned professional. However, apprenticeship programs are becoming less common, so don’t bank solely on this option.

Step 3: Enroll in Barber School

The most common path these days involves completing a barber training program at a dedicated barber school or cosmetology school. Here are a few things to look for when choosing a program:

  • State approval – Make sure the school and curriculum meets the requirements for licensure in your state.
  • Full-time vs part-time – Full-time programs can be as short as 10-15 weeks while part-time lasts 9-18 months.
  • Class size – A smaller teacher to student ratio is ideal for proper hands-on instruction.
  • Curriculum – Technical skills, health and safety, and business principles should all be covered.
  • Tuition costs – Prices vary greatly so find an option that fits your budget.
  • Reviews – Check online reviews and testimonials from graduates.

Once enrolled, barber school curriculums usually cover topics such as:

  • Clipper cutting techniques
  • Shear and razor cutting
  • Fade and taper methods
  • Hairstyling and finishing
  • Shaving and beard trims
  • Men’s hair replacement
  • Skin and scalp care
  • Product knowledge
  • Color theory
  • Barber shop business basics
  • State laws and regulations
  • Test preparation

You’ll spend time practicing your skills on mannequins and live models to build confidence before working with real clients. Make the most of this structured training to soak up valuable hands-on lessons from experienced instructors.

Step 4: Get Your License

All states require barbers to get licensed in order to work legally in the industry. The licensure process typically involves:

Completing Required Hours of Training

Most states mandate you complete a barber training program with a minimum number of hours – usually between 900-1800 hours depending on the state. Your school will ensure you meet these hourly requirements.

Taking a Written Exam

You’ll need to pass a written test that covers topics like laws and regulations, sanitation, skin anatomy, and implements and tools. Study your textbooks and class notes thoroughly to prepare for this exam.

Passing a Practical Exam

This assesses your ability to correctly and safely perform services like cutting hair, shaving, facial hair grooming, and more within strict time limits. Your school will help you prepare by practicing these skills repeatedly.

Upon passing all required exams and paying applicable licensing fees, you’ll receive your official state barber license. Congratulations – you can now begin working as a professional barber!

Step 5: Build Your Barbering Skills

Just because you’re licensed doesn’t mean the learning stops. Here are some tips for ramping up your skills once you begin working behind the chair:

  • Focus on mastering the basics – quality fades, tapers, and basic haircuts. Mastery of the fundamentals is the key to good barbering.
  • Practice new techniques during down time in the shop. For example, try challenging razor designs on a foam head.
  • Study the styles of master barbers online and dissect how they use clippers, shears, and razors.
  • Ask questions of the senior barbers in your shop or barber network. Soak up their tips and knowledge.
  • Attend continuing education classes. Many states actually require a certain number of CE hours annually to keep your license.
  • Follow barbering hashtags and accounts on Instagram. Social media provides endless inspiration for honing your craft.

Putting in time at the start of your career to refine your technical skills will pay off exponentially with loyal clients who appreciate your attention to detail.

Step 6: Choose Your Barbering Environment

One of the great aspects of barbering is you have options when it comes to your working environment. Some of the most common environments for barbers include:

Existing Barbershop

Getting hired as a full-time or part-time barber at an established shop provides structure and guidance as you’re getting started. You’ll learn the ropes from the owner, build a clientele faster, and avoid the risk of owning your own business.

Rental Chair

Renting a chair from a shop lets you operate as your own independent business while using the shop’s space, equipment, and existing client flow. It’s a nice middle ground between working for someone else and owning your own spot.

Mobile Barbering

Bring the barbershop directly to your clients by offering at-home or on-site services. Though you’ll need a vehicle, mobile kit, and marketing plan, you get to set your own schedule.

Owning a Shop

Eventually many barbers choose to invest in their own shop space. This allows the most control and ability to shape the culture, brand, and revenue potential, but comes with the most risk and responsibilities.

Take time to decide which option best suits your personality, lifestyle, financial goals, and experience level as you embark on your new barbering career.

Step 7: Build Client Relationships

One of the most fulfilling parts of professional barbering comes through building lasting relationships with your regular clientele. Here are some tips for nurturing connections in the barber chair:

  • Greet them warmly by name and ask questions to show your interest in their lives. Listen intently to their responses and stories.
  • Discuss suggestions openly, making clients feel involved in styling decisions. Don’t dictate looks without input.
  • Explain aftercare clearly so clients can reproduce the look themselves at home.
  • Recommend products that specifically target the needs of their hair type and lifestyle.
  • Share insights and advice related to hair maintenance and grooming. Become their trusted expert.
  • Remember personal details and follow up on them. Your genuine care will be appreciated.
  • Make appointments convenient by offering early or late hours when possible.
  • Provide an enjoyable, relaxing environment in your chair and shop.

By really listening to clients and showing you’re invested beyond the haircut, you’ll build loyalty that lasts for years and referral business that’s incredibly valuable.

Step 8: Continue Growing Your Career

Once established in your barbering career, you’ll find there are always new goals on the horizon. Here are some areas where top barbers continue to grow and challenge themselves:

  • Business ownership – After getting experience under your belt, run the numbers and create a business plan for opening your own shop. Location, financing, pricing, marketing, hiring, and shop culture are key things to figure out.
  • Advanced education – Attend speciality workshops or classes to learn the most on-trend barbering techniques. Expand into new services like straight blade shaving or hair replacement systems.
  • Competitions – Test your skills against other barbers by competing in local, national, or international competitions. The feedback and exposure can be invaluable.
  • Teaching – Pass on your knowledge by becoming a barber instructor at a school or offering your own classes.
  • Media – Start documenting your work on social media or platforms like YouTube to build your brand and profile within the industry.
  • Leadership roles – Get involved with local barber associations or shop management duties.

Setting new professional goals prevents stagnation and keeps your passion for barbering alive and growing.

How Much Can Barbers Earn?

Of course, earning potential is a major consideration when choosing a career. Here’s an overview of barber salary ranges in the UK:

  • Apprentice barber – £8-11/hour
  • Entry-level barber – £18,000-£22,000 annually
  • Experienced barber – £22,000-£30,000 annually
  • Shop owner/manager – £35,000-£50,000+ annually

Factors like location, shop type, clientele, and barbering skills impact wages. Those able to build up an elite client base and brand can command prices at the higher end of that spectrum. While you likely won’t get rich as a barber, there is certainly potential for a comfortable living.

Key Takeaways on How to Become a Barber

Becoming a licensed, professional barber takes dedication but brings immense rewards. Following this step-by-step guide will set you up for success in this exciting career path. Here are the key takeaways:

  • Understand the day-to-day responsibilities and benefits of working as a barber
  • Earn a high school diploma or GCSE
  • Complete a barber training program and get licensed in your state
  • Build foundational skills like clipper cutting, tapering, and fading
  • Choose from barbershop, rental chair, mobile, or ownership settings
  • Establish lasting client relationships and grow your brand
  • Continuously set new goals for your career – whether competing, teaching, managing, or innovating.

If you have the passion to help clients look and feel their best through the art of barbering, get started with the first steps today. With dedication and consistency, you can build a rewarding, lifelong career.

Frequently Asked Questions on Becoming a Barber

Still have some questions about embarking on a professional barbering career? Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked FAQs:

How long does it take to become a licensed barber?

In most states you can complete the required training hours and graduate from barber school in about 12-18 months as a full-time student, or longer if attending part-time. After graduating comes state exams and licensing, so the entire process typically takes 1-2 years.

How Much Can Barbers Earn?

Entry-level barber – £18,000-£22,000+ annually
Experienced barber – £22,000-£30,000+ annually

Do I need barber insurance?

A junior barber is a trained barber who has recently completed their barbering program or apprenticeship and has obtained their license. Junior barbers typically work under the supervision of experienced barbers to further develop their skills and gain practical experience.

What is the difference between barbering and cosmetology?

Barbering is focused specifically on cutting, styling, and grooming hair for men. Cosmetology encompasses hair, skin, nail, and makeup services for both male and female clients. Most barbers can transition into cosmetology with some additional training, and vice versa.

Do I need artistic skill to be a good barber?

While artistic ability can be helpful, it’s not required to be a successful barber. More important are technical skills with tools like shears and clippers, listening to clients’ needs, and learning the fundamentals of men’s hairstyling. These can be developed with proper schooling.

How do I choose the right barber school?

Pick an accredited program with hands-on training, experienced instructors, and a curriculum that meets your state’s requirements. Schools with smaller class sizes and clinic time with real clients are ideal. Also consider reviews, cost, and scheduling options.

Will I need to invest a lot of money to get started?

Tuition at UK barber schools averages £6,000-£9,000. Then you’ll need money for quality tools like clippers and shears that will last, which could be around £200-£300 up front. Shop rental chairs average £50-£150 per week in the UK. So expect some startup costs, but costs are reasonable compared to other vocations. With careful budgeting and financing options, the investment to become a licensed barber in the UK can be very manageable.

What’s the difference between owning a shop and renting a chair?

Owning means shouldering all the expenses of running the business but keeping all profits. Renting reduces your financial risk and responsibilities while allowing you to focus solely on barbering. Weigh your business experience, financial situation, and career goals when deciding.

How do I get clients as a new barber?

Offer discounted introductory rates, partner with other shops needing extra help, build your brand on social media, run local advertisements, hand out business cards, and provide exceptional service so existing clients refer others. It takes some hustle which will pay off!

Becoming a barber can be a hugely fulfilling career both financially and personally. If you have a passion for the art of men’s grooming, follow the guidance above to get qualified and start cutting hair professionally. The industry needs more talented, dedicated barbers like yourself!

What skills do I need to become a barber?

To become a barber, you need a range of skills. These include excellent communication and customer service skills, as barbers often interact with customers. You also need to have good hand-eye coordination, attention to detail, and the ability to work with different hair types and styles.

Can I become a barber by taking a private course?

Yes, you can become a barber by taking a private barbering course. Private courses are offered by various barber schools and institutions. These courses typically provide intensive training and can be completed in a shorter time compared to traditional programs.

What is an NVQ qualification?

An NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) is a recognized qualification in the UK barbering industry. It is a practical-based qualification that assesses your skills and competence as a barber. Completing an NVQ qualification is one of the requirements to become a licensed barber.

What are the work hours like for a barber?

The work hours for a barber can vary depending on the establishment and personal schedule. As a barber, you may work regular office hours, such as 9 am to 5 pm. However, some barbers choose to work evenings and weekends to accommodate their clients’ schedules.

How can I become the best barber?

Becoming the best barber requires continuous learning and practice. Apart from completing a barbering program or apprenticeship, you can enhance your skills by attending workshops, seminars, and conferences related to barbering. Keeping up with the latest trends and techniques in the industry will also help you stay ahead.

Do I need barber insurance?

Barber insurance is not a legal requirement, but it is highly recommended. Barber insurance provides protection for your business and personal assets, covering scenarios such as accidents, injuries, or damages that may occur while providing barbering services.


Becoming a barber is a great way to tap into your creativity, build relationships, and have a flexible career. If you’re interested in pursuing this career, here are the steps you need to take:

  • Graduate high school or get a GCSE.
  • Consider an apprenticeship.
  • Enroll in barber school.
  • Get your license.
  • Build your barbering skills.
  • Choose your barbering environment.
  • The path to becoming a barber may vary depending on your individual circumstances, but following these steps will give you a good foundation for success.

Here are some additional tips for becoming a barber:

Get involved in the barbering community. Attend barbering events, follow barbering hashtags on social media, and connect with other barbers online and in person.
Stay up-to-date on the latest trends. The world of barbering is constantly evolving, so it’s important to stay ahead of the curve.
Be passionate about your work. If you’re not passionate about barbering, it will be difficult to succeed in this career.